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Roles of a Teacher

MATC Synthesis Paper


In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
Master of Arts Degree in Curriculum and Teaching
Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Lisa Myers
June 17, 2014










Introduction
In a given day of teaching there are many roles I must consider in order to
be an effective educator. Many people do not fully understand the complexity of
a teachers job, and even I have slowly evolved in my understanding of all the
roles a teacher has. I even find myself accepting more roles as I continue to
learn and grow. As I reflect upon my journey from my undergraduate
coursework to accepting my first teaching position to beginning graduate
coursework and finally to the present where I am finishing my fourth year of
teaching and taking my final courses in the MATC program I am aware that my
roles have changed and grown much deeper. By the end of my first year of
teaching and as I had started my journey through the MATC program I had really
just begun to understand my roles as an educator. Through this program I have
been able to deepen my understanding of those roles. In this paper I will discuss
my role as a learner, collaborator, and educator, and how my deepened
understanding of these roles have shaped me into the teacher I am today.
Teacher as a Learner
Recently my administrator commended me for my openness to receiving
feedback and for having a willingness to continually improve. Teaching is always
evolving, so an important role for me as a teacher is having a lifelong
commitment to learning.
I began taking courses in the Masters in Educational Technology program
three summers ago. Upon completion of the first three technology courses in the
program, CEP 810, 811, & 812 I earned a Graduate Certificate in Educational
Technology. I was learning a great deal about technology, but I was having a
difficult time incorporating it effectively into my second grade classroom,
especially with the limited resources provided in my school. During the second
summer of the program I took the State of Michigan required literacy course TE
846: Accommodating Differences in Literacy Learners. Upon taking this course I
instantly realized I wanted to focus more on literacy courses. I wanted to push
myself to get the most out of the coursework I was taking, so I decided to switch
majors and applied to the Masters in Teaching and Curriculum program. As part
of the application process I was asked to write an essay about a problem of
practice I face in my classroom. My Problem of Practice application essay shows
evidence of my commitment for continued learning, and my ability to reflect upon
my learning to make it the most relevant to my practice (Artifact 5). By reflecting
and looking deeply at what I needed to learn to benefit my students, I realized
that I needed more knowledge in the area of literacy. It was difficult to change
from the MAET program, but I knew that by having more flexibility to choose my
concentration courses I would then be able to take more literacy courses.
Without the literacy courses I have taken I would not have the knowledge I have
gained to benefit my students as readers and writers.
When I first began teaching I thought I would, for the most part, try to fly
under the radar, and not step too far out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, my
first teaching position brought me to a very supportive staff who quickly taught
me that flying under the radar is not best practice. I joined a staff that pushes
one another to be the best they can be. Two years ago a colleague of mine
encouraged me to volunteer to host a learning lab. Learning labs are a type of
professional development the district I teach for offers. During a learning lab,
teachers invite other grade level teachers into their classroom to observe a
lesson being taught. Although it was way out of my comfort zone to invite
teachers in to observe me teaching, I pushed myself and volunteered to open my
classroom for a lab style professional development (Artifact 1). In this learning
lab, teachers visited my classroom to watch how I teach readers and writers
workshop. Before the visit I discussed my lesson with the visiting teachers and
after the visit all of the teachers gathered to discuss what they observed. I
received many positive affirmations about my teaching and also some advice
about areas that I could strengthen. Allowing myself to be vulnerable in order to
gain feedback from colleagues has helped me grow tremendously. I volunteered
again this year and plan to continue as long the opportunity is available.
Teacher as a Collaborator
Collaboration is a huge part of an educators learning and growth. Some of
my best learning experiences have come from collaborating with my colleagues.
Whenever I collaborate and feed-off other educators I always think about the
quote by Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As a teacher it
is easy to close your door and not connect with other teachers, but when you
have a willingness to collaborate it is amazing what a group of teachers are able
to accomplish.
Throughout my MATC experience I was able to engage in a variety of
texts that allowed me to reflect upon good teaching. In TE 807: Professional
Development & Inquiry I was asked to write a paper about what I thought
constitutes good teaching (Artifact 3). In this course I read an article called To
Teach: The Journey of a Teacher. In this article, Ayers states, there are a lot of
people who write adequate lesson plans, keep order and quiet in the classrooms,
deliver competent instruction in algebra or phonics, and are lousy teachers.
Outstanding teachers engage youngsters, interact with them, draw energy and
direction from them, and find ways to give them a reason to follow along. This is
the difficult and serious work of teaching (Ayers, 2010). When I read this article
I really began to reflect on Ayers words. I was able to write decent lesson plans
and I kept order in the classroom, but I questioned if I was drawing energy and
direction from my students and if I was giving them reason to follow along. As I
started my fourth year of teaching, I took these ideals to heart, and have spent a
lot of time focusing on getting my students more involved in each lesson through
collaborative conversations. Because collaboration has provided such wonderful
learning opportunities for me, I make sure I provide meaningful opportunities for
my students to collaborate as well. Students are often asked to turn-and-talk
during a lesson, have writing partners that they meet with weekly to share their
writing with and have daily reading partners or small group book clubs where
they work towards a common goal. Incorporating this collaboration piece for my
students has helped them have a purpose for their learning and allows me the
opportunity to interact and draw direction from them.
Collaboration has been a huge part of each course I have taken in the
MATC program. Each course I have taken has incorporated collaboration in
some form. My first three courses, CEP 810, 811, and 812 taught me several
ways to use technology to collaborate. In these three courses I was introduced
to Google Drive. I learned how to use Google Drive to create documents,
presentation and forms to create surveys. In each course I have also had many
informative discussions through the angel and D2L platform, as well as live
discussion groups using Zoom and Google doc chat. In CEP 812 I was also
introduced to Vyew. I used Vyew to coordinate a project plan with other group
members to create a tutorial on the technology of our choice. We chose to
create a tutorial on how to use Blogger and collaborated with Camtasia, a screen
recording and video editing tool (Artifact 7). Each group member took one
aspect of Blogger and used Camtasia to teach how to use it. I then compiled
each members part to complete the tutorial.
Collaboration is key to learning. The coursework throughout the MATC
program has taught me ways to encourage collaboration among my students as
well as ways to collaborate among my colleagues. I will continue to collaborate
with colleagues through professional learning communities, co-planning, and
other professional development opportunities, and will continue to find
meaningful ways for my students to collaborate in the classroom.
Teacher as a Teacher
Being a learner and a collaborator are two important roles of a teacher,
but these two roles wouldnt exist without the most important task of all, which is
my role as the teacher. The Masters in Teaching and Curriculum courses have
significantly impacted the way I teach and what I use to teach my students. The
courses have given me the skills to be able to reflect about the practices I use
and which curriculum is most valuable to my students.
A huge part of my day is spent analyzing what my students are able to do,
and using that data to determine what to teach next. Being a great teacher
means having the ability to analyze student data and individualize instruction with
best practices. TE 842: Elementary Reading Assessment & Instruction helped
me gain a plethora of knowledge on reading assessments. Artifact 6, an analysis
of student data, allowed me to analyze a collection of data from two students and
use my knowledge to diagnose what I believed to be strengths and weaknesses
and then subscribe instructional goals for each student. I also spent a summer
working with another student and developed a case study (Artifact 4). Here I
gathered data using the Development Reading Assessment. Based on the data I
received I was able to discover strengths and areas to address. This student
had good comprehension, but needed to improve decoding and overall fluency. I
designed and executed several lessons to help this student work on decoding
and prosody to improve fluency. The knowledge I have gained about assessing
from these two courses have been very helpful in addressing each individual
students needs to drive my instruction.
The Masters in Teaching and Curriculum program has helped me deepen
my knowledge and understanding of the many roles I have as an educator. As
my MATC journey comes to an end I feel that I have made significant progress
toward the programs goals, but I have learned that there is always room for
growth. As I look forward, I know my role as a learner, collaborator, and teacher
will continue to deepen. I am excited to continue to use the program goals as a
guideline for continued growth as I continue my journey as an educator.


































References

Ayers, W. (2010). To teach: The journey of a teacher. (Third ed.). New York:
Teachers College Press.